In 109 BC, armies dispatched by the Han dynasty ruler
Wudi reached present-day eastern Yunnan, defeating the
kingdom of Dian and establishing the prefecture of Yizhou. Historical sources and archaeological data –mainly
objects recovered from Dian burials– highlight China’s
impact on the region both before and after the conquest.
This paper reviews the evidence for such impact through
a consideration of the relevant texts and a further analysis of available information on Chinese style artifacts
(CSA’s) in pre- and post-conquest Dian graves. For the
first century of Han occupation, the texts and grave assemblages –whose elaborate CSA’s make up only a small
percentage of elite burial goods– point to the native inhabitants’ limited acculturation and incorporation into
the Han administration. In contrast, textual entries and
the widespread appearance of Han style tombs and burial
assemblages during the first century AD provide clearer
evidence of acculturation and incorporation. However,
divergent interpretations emerge in light of additional
information, which includes textual evidence for continuing local uprisings against the Han presence, as well as
evidence from later historical periods of China’s uneven
and incomplete control of eastern Yunnan.
This is a comprehensive and fully documented study of Chinese
bureaucracy during the Han period, when many of the basic lines of
Chinese government practice were laid down. It is also more detailed and
wider in scope than similar works on other periods of Chinese history.
The book covers the time from 202 BC to AD 9 and from AD 25 to 189,
analysing and describing the central and local administrations, the
army, official salaries, civil service recruitment and power in
government. Professor Bielenstein translates all Chinese official titles
and includes alphabetical lists of these titles with their English and
Chinese equivalents. Thus his book will serve both as a description for
the names of offices at every level of government. The book will be of
interest to all scholars of Chinese history, as well as to experts in
other fields of institutional history, government and political science.